Service is joy, to see or swing. Allow
all tumult to subside...
from "Tennis" by Margaret Avison
We play tennis because of joy.
It's easy to forget this throughout the course of a season. Injury dulls the joy. Bad swings and serves dull the joy. The tarnish of busyness, tiredness, and a week of heat cloud up our joy. Sometimes we're challenged by long bus rides, stiff muscles, and the feeling that we "should be winning!"
But we all play tennis because of joy.
It's fun to swing the racket. I know, I watch my kids. They don't even know how to play points, or keep score, but they love to swing the racket. Even Hosea, who's only 11 months old, likes to pick up his orange baby racket and sweep it through the living room air.
We've been thinking about this joy for the past several matches. Last night, when we arrived at Fremont from an hour and a half bus ride, we were tired and sore. We went through a quick warmup and began play, looking very unfocused, very stiff, and incredibly bad.
We lost early games at every varsity position except for #3 singles. Players were frustrated and muttering and feeling nervous already.
This is the exact moment that we need to let joy break in.
Remember why we love to play, how we love to play. Take a breath, smile, and go for it. Thursday night against the Eagles, this is what we did. Joel almost whiffed a ball in the first game, hit one ball straight up in the air, and hit an overhead straight in the net. In the next two games, he kept the confidence and the joy to smash two scissor-kicking overheads as he moved back.
Jesse Amstutz found himself down 2-1, complaining that he'd never played someone who takes the pace off the ball like Fremont's #2 singles. But he returned to his best play, moving his feet and using short balls to come forward. He even got to enjoy a great match of overheading and volleying.
And there are more examples. The JV, I think, is mastering the art of joyful play. After most of our matches, the JV players have flooded our courts to play more. Just for fun. Tuesday night, after the Columbia City match ended, there were 8 JV guys who went out to play. They smacked the ball back and forth, laughing and hitting some incredible shots.
This joy is translating to their matches (and will continue even more). The JV kept their undefeated record going on Thursday, winning without their normal #1 singles player (Byeong Min Lim) who was playing #1 singles for the injured Abe Thorne. We especially played well at the doubles positions, mastering our serves and taking away the net.
But there are more times to simply enjoy. We need to smile through the pressure moments. Byeong Min Lim had a great match, playing #1 singles against sophomore Logan Miller. Byeong had the power and the approach shots and the volleys and all the elements needed to win the match, but he was also under pressure. Byeong led at the end of every set, yet only was able to win the first set. Nerves set in, Byeong swung tightly and pushed the balls long. He ended up losing in a close third set, accounting for our only varsity loss. He couldn't quite calm those pressure moments.
This is where joy breaks in.
Swinging like a child, swinging like it is recess time, swinging like we're out laughing with friends. Swinging like this sweeps the tumult inside of us away.
#1S - Byeong Min Lim - 7-6 (3), 4-6, 5-7 - Logan Miller (10)
#2S - Jesse Amstutz - 6-2, 6-1 - Mason Kolberg (12)
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 6-1, 6-1 - Jeremy Seiler (10)
#1D - Joel Gerig/Hans Miller - 6-1, 6-1 - Wade Regedanz (9)/Brandan Arnos (10)
#2D - Parth Patel/Landon Weldy - 6-3, 7-5 - Alberto Figueroa (11)/Connor McHann (11)
#1SJV - Ethan Lapp - 6-2 - Jordan Sanderson (12)
#2SJV - Justin Zehr - 2-6 - Jayce Colclasure (9)
#3SJV - Bryce Miller - 6-1 - Joe Conti (9)
#4SJV - Jacob Rudy-Froese - 1-6 - Keagan Connelly (10)
#1DJV - Ryan Duckworth/Neel Bhagat - 6-1 - Keagan Connelly (10)/Nick LaRose (9)
#2DJV - Jack Erlacher/Simon Hurst - 6-3 - Kyle Boekhout (11)/Caleb Presley (10)
#3DJV - Lane Miller/Brandon Nguyen - 6-1 - Daniel Hart (10)/Jackson Cardosa (9)
#4DJV - Matthew Peters/Jackson King - 6-4 - Joe Conti (9)/Jayce Colclasure (9)
#5DJV - Roberto Ramos/Daniel Robles - 2-6 - Nick LaRose (9)/Jackson Cardosa (9)